opposite-sex friends

Things to make you go hmmmm….

I get newsfeed updates from Psychopath Free on my Facebook.  Something in today’s update which made me go hmmmmm:

To draw you closer, the psychopath creates an aura of desirability—of being wanted and courted by many. It will become a point of vanity for you to be the preferred object of their attention, to win them away from a crowd of admirers.

They manufacture the illusion of popularity by surrounding themselves with members of the opposite sex: friends, former lovers, and your eventual replacement. Then, they create triangles that stimulate rivalry and raise their perceived value. (Adapted from “The Art of Seduction” by Robert Greene).

Psychopaths, like most predators, seek power and control. They want to dominate their partners sexually, emotionally, and physically. They do this by exploiting vulnerabilities.

This is why they love-bomb you with attention and flattery in the beginning of the relationship—because no matter how strong or confident you are, being in “love” makes you vulnerable by default.

Psychopaths don’t need physical aggression to control you (although sometimes they do). Instead, relationships provide them with the perfect opportunity to consume you by manufacturing the illusion of love.

This is why it’s so damaging when bystanders say: “Well, why didn’t you just leave?” You never entered a relationship with the psychopath expecting to be abused, belittled, and criticized—first, you were tricked into falling in love, which is the strongest human bond in the world. Psychopaths know this.

…The psychopath’s ability to groom others is unmatched. They feel an intense euphoria when they turn people against each other, especially when it’s over a competition for them.

Psychopaths will manufacture situations to make you jealous and question their fidelity. In a normal relationship, people go out of their way to prove that they are trustworthy—but the psychopath does exactly the opposite.

They are constantly suggesting that they might be pursuing other options, or spending time with other people, so that you can never settle down into a feeling of peace. And they will always deny this, calling you crazy for bringing it up.

….The final triangulation happens when they make the decision to abandon you. This is when they’ll begin freely talking about how much this relationship is hurting them, and how they don’t know if they can deal with your behavior anymore.

They will usually mention talking to a close friend about your relationship, going into details about how they both agreed that your relationship wasn’t healthy.

In the meantime, they’ve been blatantly ignoring frantic messages from you. You’ll be sitting there wondering why they aren’t chatting with you about these concerns, considering it’s your relationship.

Well, the reason is that they’ve already made the decision to dump you—now they’re just torturing you. They only seek advice from people they know will agree with them. That “friend” they’re talking to is probably their next target.–Torture by Triangulation

If you take away the focus here on marital relationships, and adapt it to friendship, the same thing applies.  Richard’s relationship with me was a platonic friendship, but the same dynamics were at work:

The first couple of months he stayed with us, his cell constantly rang with all sorts of friends.  He’d ignore them to talk with me, or answer and then say he was in the middle of a conversation, and get back to me.

He’d tell me about all the women he had to fight off–not just in his single days, but after getting married.

After this love bombing phase ended, the criticism began and I was discarded for a month.  I could do nothing right, and he didn’t want to spend time with me anymore.

Then he gave me special hugs–throwing me a bone to keep me thinking that things would be as they were at first.

But after that, despite the occasional bone-throwing (kind words etc.), he kept me off-balance.  Other friends constantly clamored for his time, and I became lower on the totem pole than they were.

Then a new friend, Chris, came along, and got all the attention that I used to get.  They’d go out and do things, talk, etc., and I would be the one sitting at home, or abandoned at the picnic table while they went walking along the beach.

The last part also reminds me of mid-2010, when I could feel things were going wrong.  But when I tried to discuss it with Richard, he shut me down, made me feel paranoid.  He also told me his political friends were messaging him on Facebook complaining about the things I posted on his FB threads.

This article also makes me wonder how much of the whole situation was Richard manipulating me to make Tracy jealous, to keep her from leaving him.  If he played each of his friends, family, spouse, the way he played me, on purpose to control us all.

I think back and remember little things he did, which individually may not mean much, but taken together make one big picture of him playing people off each other.

He did once say that being fought over gave him a big head.  Another time, he deliberately skewed what I said to make Tracy jealous:

Somebody on TV used the phrase “love on.”  It’s a new Evangelical phrase which sounds soooo wrong, but they’ll say, “we’ll love on you.”  I’m not entirely sure what it means, but I think it’s about showering people with agape love.

I commented on how weird it sounds, and said, “I don’t say ‘love on you,’ I say ‘love you.'”  Then Richard turned to Tracy and said, “She just said she loves me!”  So Tracy started hissing at me.

??!!

I think it was a joke, but I’m not entirely sure.  Or if she knew it was a joke.

I also remember him complaining to me privately about her jealousy over women friends, at various times over the years.  He complained to me about her jealousy over another friend when she first moved into my house.

But while sitting on the couch with both of us, he’d tell her the jealousy was sexy, a compliment.  Meanwhile, she drove me crazy with her jealousy toward me in my house.

He complained to me about her being mean, then in front of her would tell the kids that he married her because she’s mean.

Individually these things may not seem like much, but taken all together, they become a big picture of control and manipulation, playing people off each other to gratify his ego.

This is going into my web book on this situation.

It’s also going into my college memoirs, because this stuff also applies to what Phil did in September 1994.  It explains everything that happened during this month and the following months, changing “online” to “on a college campus,” where I saw Phil and Perspehone constantly–especially when they both sat right there with my friends and me at lunch–getting all cuddly and cute with each other.

It explains Phil’s behavior, refusing to accept any of my complaints as valid or anything but a shrew who has to cut him down.

While I was supposed to accept everything he wanted or complained about as gospel truth or my wifely duty, no matter how cutting, no matter how painful, no matter how it slandered my character.

The friend he talked to, was Dirk, whom he manipulated into thinking I was an abusive shrew, and who then became Phil’s tool of controlling me by proxy:

The final triangulation happens when they make the decision to abandon you. This is when they’ll begin freely talking about how much this relationship is hurting them, and how they don’t know if they can deal with your behavior anymore.

They will usually mention talking to a close friend about your relationship, going into details about how they both agreed that your relationship wasn’t healthy.

In the meantime, they’ve been blatantly ignoring frantic messages from you. You’ll be sitting there wondering why they aren’t chatting with you about these concerns, considering it’s your relationship.

Well, the reason is that they’ve already made the decision to dump you—now they’re just torturing you. They only seek advice from people they know will agree with them. That “friend” they’re talking to is probably their next target.

After the breakup, they will openly brag about how happy they are with their new partner [Persephone, whom he dated immediately after the breakup], where most normal people would feel very embarrassed and secretive about entering a new relationship so quickly.

And even more surprising, they fully expect you to be happy for them. Otherwise you are bitter and jealous.

During this period, they make a post-dump assessment. If you grovel or beg, they are likely to find some value in your energy. They will be both disgusted and delighted by your behavior.

If you lash out and begin uncovering their lies, they will do everything in their power to drive you to suicide. Even if you come back to them later with an apology, they will permanently despise any target who once dared talk back to them. You’ve seen too much—the predator behind the mask.

This is why they constantly wave their new partner in your face, posting pictures and declaring their happiness online. Proving how happy and perfect they are.

It’s a final attempt to drive you insane with triangulation. To make you blame the new target, instead of the true abuser.

 

Not only does this article help me understand better what happened with both Richard and Phil, but it can help other people understand their own situations.

Discovering long-forgotten psychological abuse and attempted sexual assaults in my college memoirs

I’ve been going through my public college memoirs, which are published here, along with my private memoirs, to decide what to put in the public version that has not previously been there.  Right now I’m going through the July and August 1994 chapter.  And I must say…..

That part should include trigger warnings for people who have been raped, sexually assaulted or sexually abused.

Over the years since I wrote it all down (1994 through 1998), I completely forgot a lot of it.  I remembered Phil’s attempts to guilt and verbally coerce me into anal sex, and the time he tried to force me into it and I tried to push him off me….

But I completely forgot there was more.  That he repeatedly tried to turn me over, with a stern, angry look on his face like I’d better obey, but I’d refuse and resist his hands.  Amazing what you can forget in 20 years.

It also amazes me because over the years, I started to fear that I was to blame for some of his abuse.  You mature and start to wonder if you behaved badly at times in previous relationships.

But as I go through these old logs, I see the extent of his verbal, psychological and sexual abuse was even farther than I remembered.

It must have been some of his “time bombs” being planted in my head, going off years later, making me forget what really happened.

I begin to read and remember just how extensively he tried to gaslight me by changing history, telling people deliberate lies about me, yelling at me over things I could not help (like not being able to keep up with his fast walk), then complaining about me at work (smear campaign).

Oh, yeah, and don’t forget the hoax he kept up for some eight months, tricking me into believing that he was talking in his sleep and acting out his dreams, including his “subconscious” coming out to tell me all his little secrets.  I forgot the extent of the “subconscious” hoax, as well.

I begin to see that, as painful as it may be to review these things and put them into the public, they serve an important purpose and must be put out there.

We need to keep educating each other about abuse, because despite decades of awareness campaigns, Lifetime movies and the like, people still get abused, people still feel entitled to abuse.

My story also shows that it can be survived, and that you can eventually break the emotional bond with your abuser. 

Now, I can be friendly to Phil online maybe, but there’s no way in heck that I would ever get back together with him.  I don’t WANT him.  The love I once felt, is dead.  The emotional bond was completely severed years ago.

My story also shows that I can eventually get to this point with Richard, too.  The breakup with Phil was emotionally devastating to me, despite the abuse, and it took months and a new boyfriend to get over it.

But it was easy to get over the breakup, compared to the aftereffects of the abuse: They lasted for years.  But I did get past them, finally.

Now it’s basically a short blip in my life, an episode of only nine months out of 40 years, which no longer affects the present.  Well, except for avoiding certain people even on Facebook because they were his minions…

It also tells me that the story of Richard/Tracy needs to stay out there, too, even though parts of it might embarrass me because of my gullibility,

or discovering that some people still believe we should control the friendships of our spouses,

or discovering that some people actually think it’s immoral to be close friends with the opposite sex when one or both of you is married.

(Are you frickin’ kidding me?  I thought we abandoned those ideas DECADES ago!)

Or that innocent, playful flirting is somehow immoral after you get married.  (They’d have a conniption fit if they ever visited my old workplace, which was full of flirty married people, or met some of the SCA people I know!)

The full story must continue to be told, because abuse stories like this are desperately needed.  They’re needed to warn the young and the naïve.

They’re needed to educate the public on what abuse is, that verbal and psychological abuse is very real, and that its damage to victims must be respected.

They’re needed to educate the public on narcissism and how severely it traumatizes its victims, even though it’s often not physical abuse.

 

Platonic opposite-sex friends without jealous spouses…Or, Saw an old friend for lunch yesterday

It was so good to see my pastor-friend “Mike” again.

He says his wife is “very jealous,” yet she doesn’t know me, doesn’t want to friend people on Facebook just because they’re his friends, doesn’t monitor his conversations with me, none of this.

If what he means is, she doesn’t want to share him sexually, that’s not “jealousy,” that’s normal.  🙂  No, I don’t consider her jealous, since she’s never shown any sign of jealousy with me.

Yes, Mike is in my college memoirs.  We’ve known each other since InterVarsity started up my sophomore year.  I even had a crush on him for a while.  But it wasn’t returned, I moved on to my now-husband, and our friendship has always been strictly platonic.  As Mike puts it, we flirt on occasion, but we always maintain boundaries.

What did we talk about?  Family.  Church.  Religion.  Nothing to be alarmed about.

Some people, even in the twenty-first century, still have problems with married people having opposite-sex friends.  Or people flirting innocently and harmlessly with opposite-sex friends.

While some people do turn it into affairs, that’s their problem.  Let the rest of us have our friends without fear of facing an angry spouse, or having to justify it.

Mike was part of my main circle of friends in college, even though it was mostly female.  We called him an “honorary woman.”  Even though half of us had crushes on him at some point, he never dated us.

I’ve kept up with that circle over the years, and now we’re all on Facebook, connected though scattered across the state.  It would be a shame to break that up because of a jealous spouse.  It’s so good to see this is not a problem.

 

Carolyn Hax (and the “nutterati”) Stick It to a Jealous Girlfriend

A letter writer is quite upset that her boyfriend of two years still talks–all the time–with his ex-wife of 30 years.  Even “put her foot down” over it, only to find he was still talking to the ex.  Carolyn Hax’s response was not what she expected.  For example:

But this is not up for debate: He has every right to this friendship. You can point out things that bother you, take offense at being lied to, and decide they’re too cozy and break up with him for it, but you can’t tell him who he can or can’t care about based on the way you think coupled people are supposed to behave.

The commenters “below the line” (whom Hax calls “nutterati”) also, for the most part, appear to agree with Hax, and consider the letter writer to be controlling, jealous, insecure, etc.  They note that she’s trying to control a grown man.

YES!

Column here: Why can’t these exes who are “bestest buddies” move on?

And here’s another one in the same vein:

Her hostile reaction to misfired introduction shows trust issues

This girlfriend throws a hissy fit because her boyfriend accidentally called her by his ex’s name, and still has pictures of the ex on his Facebook.  Then he didn’t grovel enough for her taste.  The commenters then started calling her very immature, hoping she’s about 21 and will grow up soon.

One commenter says, “Impossible to care about a person who is so intent on keeping score. Her behavior is poison to any relationship.  Assess the bigger picture, accept what is or don’t and move on.  IMO anyone this insecure and high maintenance is just too exhausting to bother with.

I can attest to that: Even if you’re not the significant other, but a friend of the SO, this can be so exhausting that you finally say screw it and leave.

 

Let’s be Open and Free with our Opposite-Sex Friends

Occasionally, I’ll click on search terms found in Statcounter’s record of my blog hits.  Today, it was “dear prudence having friends of the opposite sex”; my blog post came up #6.

This brought me here, here, here and here, which all sounded very familiar.  (No need to explain; it’s all here.)  My thoughts:

1) Sure Richard got me to trust him, and manipulated me so that I thought his actions (long hugs, snuggling up to me on the couch) were perfectly normal and appropriate expressions of affection between platonic friends.

I had no idea that he was actually using me during a rough time and separation in his marriage, that he was setting me up and lying to me about his intentions, that he would let his wife punish me for being so gullible.

But I also have very open and outgoing friends, especially SCA people, who think nothing of snuggling up to friends of either sex on the couch, flirting with you, or holding your hand–but they absolutely will not have sex with you unless both of you are unattached.

Also, Richard gave me the impression that he behaves this way with all his friends.

My friend Catherine does this ALL THE TIME.  A guy friend does this to me with his wife and others right there.  He does it to others as well.  And his wife LAUGHS.

Because of the example of these and other flirty friends and co-workers down through the years, I believed Richard, and tried to become more open myself (I am normally quite reserved).  Richard also made it sound like this stuff was perfectly normal between friends in the state he came from.

Neither my husband nor I want to put restrictions and rules on these friends.  We just accept them as they are.  Putting restrictions and rules on them would cause unnecessary stress.

There truly is nothing wrong with being cuddly with your friends, as my SCA friends are. 

But at the same time, Richard should not have initiated these things with me without getting his wife’s okay first.  He put me in a very bad, awkward spot, and without making it clear to his wife that he taught me it was okay to do the things she objected to.

He also apparently lied to me, telling me in 2009 that some of these things were okay with her now, when they were not.  Either that, or he told me the truth but she flip-flopped, since she is abusive, and apparently wanted some excuse to go nutso psycho crazy on me.  I had long since stopped doing the things which I knew were verboten, out of respect for her feelings.

(If Tracy ever met Catherine, she would’ve hated Catherine–and seen that I was not so “bad.”)

 

2) I, too, was in the same position once as the letter-writer above to Dear Prudence, whose boyfriend wanted to platonically share a hotel room with an old college female friend.  In my case, it was my husband and my own college female friend, Catherine, who also knew him through the SCA; they wanted to go to an SCA event some six hours away from home.

I didn’t want to go, and neither did her husband, so they shared a room to save expenses.  I okayed it, but felt so worried through the whole weekend that something might “happen,” that I said I didn’t want them to do that anymore.

Catherine did not understand, and accused me of having my husband on “a long leash.”  I see that Prudie would agree with her.

After dealing with Richard and Tracy in 2008, I changed my mind, and decided I had been too controlling.  But the response to Prudie makes me feel vindicated just the same, because quite a lot of people thought Prudie was wrong.

 

3) I think the source of the problem is a clash of America’s very repressed culture, with the boundary-pushing of the various countercultures down through the past several decades.

In the past, I’m sure the rules were more clear-cut, what you were and were not supposed to do.  I’ve even read that people simply did not have opposite-sex friends in the olden days, only seeing each other as potential mates.  But that does not seem true, because I have read about such friendships in old books and seen them on old TV programs, made back when people supposedly did not have them.

But many cultures have moved into our country over the centuries, so there is no dominant culture dictating how everyone is to act.  It’s no longer the Native American culture.  It’s no longer the Protestant Puritan culture.  It’s no longer white-bread 50s middle-class culture.

It’s whatever culture you bring to it; many cultures around the world are much freer with expressions of love and caring to friends.

You also have to wonder how homosexual and bisexual couples deal with this issue if it’s so “verboten.”

And we also have the mores of the countercultures: beatniks, hippies, feminism, New Age, the “Cuddle Party,” just all sorts of groups with new ways of doing things and new ideas of what is right and what is wrong.

No longer is there a dominant culture dictating morality.  So you have the repressed ones who say you’re not supposed to cuddle up to platonic opposite-sex friends if you’re married, clashing with the free spirits who see nothing wrong with cuddling up to anybody you want to cuddle up to.

How about, instead of getting angry with each other, we let our friends be themselves?  If one friend likes to snuggle up to your husband and hold his hand (in one of the above linked Dear Prudence letters), let her!  At least she’s doing it in front of you, which shows that it’s innocent!  Who would try to carry out an actual affair right in front of the wife?

Nobody yells at my friend Catherine for doing that to all her male and female friends!  When another friend, “David,” snuggles up to his female friends, his wife laughs, and so do we all, because it’s cute!

Just let each other be, and take away some of the good that came from hippie culture!  (I expect that’s where the SCA freedom comes from, because the SCA started with college students in 1960s Berkeley.)

Just because we disagree with drugs and free love, why should we also get upset over harmless expressions of love between friends?  Why not just let your friend be himself/herself, and not treat him/her like some boundary-crossing sl*t just because he/she does things differently than you do?

Also see this and this post.